French Stories

I’ve come to tell you I’m going away

September 15, 2016
going away, parc buttes chaumont, paris
Photo taken by Jessica de Ligt during the making of the video for Be Good/The Paris File. 

Writing this whilst listening to: Berry, Mademoiselle (album)
Location: my balcony, Rotterdam
Drink: Viña Tarapacá, Valle Central, Chile, Chardonnay, 2015

A freezing cold evening, February 2011. I’m gathering my stuff which is lying around the small apartment in the 19th arrondissement. Checking every drawer, going through the tiny rooms, packing my bags. I’m about to turn off the radio when I hear a familiar song coming on: Je suis venu te dire que je m’en vais, by Serge Gainsbourg. I’ve come to tell you I’m going away. Perfect, cause I’m just about to defy the cold to say my goodbyes in the café down the street. And it just so happens to be my favorite song.

 

Leaving is problematic

 

Leaving Paris. It’s painful to do after a weekend trip and problematic even after having had the luxury of spending months in this incredible city. It was always my dream to find out what it’d be like to live there. By the end of 2010 I decided it was time to simply do it. I found an apartment online, packed my guitar and went over there to write songs and perform. This resulted in The Paris File and similar stays in Palermo and Lisbon.

 

I have a thing for it

 

When I got to the city it wasn’t all simple – I found it nearly impossible to find gigs, was short on money and the writing didn’t come easy – but every day I woke up feeling excited to be in Paris. The little bars, the laissez-faire attitude of the Parisians smoking their cigarettes on the heated terraces and above all: to get to hear and speak French all the time. Due to the fact that my French was far from fluent this wasn’t simple either, but it did feel magical ’cause I have a thing for the language. Why? Because of French music.

 

It’s not just Serge

 

Don’t get me wrong. It’s not just Serge Gainsbourg I’ve been musically obsessing about throughout the years. There’s also his daughter Charlotte who released great albums. Seriously though, there are so many French bands and artists besides the Gainsbourgs that I like (scroll down to see a little list). The thing they have in common is, well, the rich French language which has a melody and rhythm of it’s own. I’m not sure actually: do I love the music because of the language or is it the other way around? Are French artists just extremely talented?

Going away

I’ve always wondered how my voice and songs would sound in French. Now in 2016, I still wonder. Back in 2011 I didn’t feel ready to give it a try. I’m probably still not ready now. But if there’s anything I’ve learnt during my time in Paris, it is that’s it’s best to simply dive in. It took me five years to do just that. I guess I’ll be going away to Paris for a while soon to practice, practice, practice.

 

paris, going away, parc buttes chaumont

Photo taken by Jessica de Ligt during the making of the video for Be Good/The Paris File. 

A few examples of French songs that I love:

 

  • Serge Gainsbourg – Je suis venu te dire que je m’en vais (I know I mentioned it before, just doing it again for emphasis)
  • Berry – Enfant de salaud
  • Noir désir – Le vent nous portera
  • Dalida & Alain Delon – Paroles, paroles
  • Coeur de Pirate/Julien Doré – Pour un infidèle
  • Brigitte Bardot – La madrague
  • Charlotte Gainsbourg – Le chat du café des artistes
  • Benjamin Biolay – Ton héritage

 

 

Do you have any songs or artists to add? That would be great!

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1 Comment

  • Reply Elise September 18, 2016 at 12:55 pm

    No artists to add unfortunately, but great story 🙂 Good luck!

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